*What it is and isn’t: In sharing some how tos on foam rolling, much of what you know about it is contrary to what it actually is. It isn’t a workout; yes it can be uncomfortable and painful in the beginning, no it doesn’t take a lot of time. Foam rolling is a restorative practice, whether you’re an athlete, young, old, office worker, yogi commuter or lead a sedentary lifestyle……………..
Foam rolling is one good thing you can start doing today to start feeling physically and psychologically better.
Feeling better, not only for your everday life, but to participate in the things in life that you really love to do.
*Where to start: with so many different kinds to choose from, which one is right for you?
*Ah, shoulders and neck. The nemesis of many people. 50% of office workers experience shoulder and neck pain. In my “neck” of the woods we’re experiencing winter; shoulders pulled up high to bring warmth. A couple of weeks ago I experienced a painful headache (and I am not a headache person). I had a full day and was entertaining clearing my schedule as the pain was nauseous and not letting up. “Gimmie the drugs” I pleaded with my daughter. With two in hand I also proceeded to lay on my roller. Following gentle movements I spent 5 minutes massaging my neck – got up and proceeded with my day.
Gradually I noticed comfort and ease with my head.
The next morning as I was making my bed, something fell from my night side table. It was the two pills. I had forgotten, I never took them.
Aside from the need with a headache, there are times when you think you don’t have the time to spend on your foam roller, my suggestion, just lay. 5 minutes practice of this routine, for a gentle restorative massage, can and will make the world of difference.
*I originally began massaging the armpit area with my foam roller after a particularly hard chest workout. Pectorals and all it’s tie-ins, teres, upper lats even tricep tie-ins benefit from a gentle massage with this area.
Then, during one of the foam rolling classes, a student shared that as we were working in this armpit area, she noticed a garlic taste in her mouth. This of course prompted my research into what else is going on. Gently massaging the upper lymph encourages natural drainage. Increasing the flow of the lymphatic system detoxifies the body, improves the immune system (“The lymphatic system plays an integral role in the immune functions of the body. It is the first line of defense against disease.”) and can also reduce inflammation…….
*It always surprises me how sitting can be so tiring. Whether it’s from a long commute, road trip, a desk job or you lead a sedentary lifestyle. As we move to the lower body, I am not going to lecture you on how sitting is now the new smoking. The hip area is of vital importance when it comes to feeling good physically and energetically.
I like this particular practice in the hip area because on those days when I think I don’t have time to get a foam rolling sessions done, I tell myself “I am going to sit anyhow, I’ll just sit for a minute on my roller”. One minute becomes the best five minutes of your day!……………..
*Great, you’ve made it past the Just Sit part of using your foam roller. This sequence will introduce you to a deeper release (or as some say “unlocking your hips”) within the hip.
The hips impact everything that the rest of body does or attempts to do; sit, stand, twist, reach, walk, and bend. There are over 15 muscles in the hip area, each plays an important role.
As you can see happy hips are important for day to day living physically. We haven’t even touched on the chakras and influence of stress to the hip area. Another time……………………
*Ahhhhh, the IT Band. I’m certain the pain center of the universe! Lol. This is the area that brought me to foam rolling.
The IT band joins up at the hip, runs down the outside of the thigh to join at the outside of the knee. It is the culprit of knee AND lower back pain. Rather than a muscle it is the fibrous tissue known as fascia. And it’s packed with nerves – which explains the sensitivity of it when lying on a foam roller.
With recent fascial research, it turns out fascia is one of our richest sensory organs with between six to ten times higher quantity of sensory nerve receptors than the muscles.4 In fact, it is possible fascia may be equal or superior to the retina, which has so far been considered the richest human sensory organ.5 (Robert Schleip et al., Fascia: The Tensional Network of the Human Body (Elsevier, 2012), 77.)
It’s been noted that a tight IT Band was due to overuse, once a common injury in runners. Again, we’re back to the sitting epidemic and how that affects our body. Sitting for prolonged periods of time tightens the hips and stretches the IT band.
So you wake up one day and rather than a full torn meniscus, you’re experiencing achy knees. If taking a least invasive approach at the achy point is something that interests you, then get on your roller. I will bet that your IT band is jacked up tight.
*And, now, the true restorative part, inverted lake (Viparita Karani). Not only mine, but my clients/students favorite part…….inverted lake with a foam roller flare.
Calming, good strategy for anxiety/depression, regulates the blood pressure and improves hormonal circulation. Relaxing and rejuvenating for body soul and mind…….enjoy
*Last and but not least, final words of foam rolling. Encouraging you to get to know your fascia before you need to and how to connect for a more in-depth or personal experience in foam rolling.